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30 Rock

30 Rock is a comedy about "TGS with Tracy Jordan" a sketch show (based on Saturday Night Live) run out of 30 Rockefeller Centre in New York. Head writer Liz Lemon has to deal with temperamental stars Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney while also appeasing her boss Jack Donaghy. NBC 2006-???


Episode 14 - Double-Edged Sword

12 February 2011

Credit NBC

Synopsis: Jack and Avery are in Canada for a G8 summit when her contractions begin. They are both determined not to let their daughter be born in Canada and so begin a desperate attempt to get across the border in a snow storm. The storm also grounds Liz' plane which Carol is flying as they are supposed to be going away together. Meanwhile Tracy realises his EGOT dream but is distressed to learn that his new fame and success brings many responsibilities with it.

The Good: I did like the consistency shown linking all three stories to the idea of a double-edged sword. As you would expect Jack is the only one who succeeded in his endeavour as he backs down and insists that Avery give birth safely rather than continue their dangerous journey back to America. We already know how well suited he and Avery are as their mutual respect is built on their intensely held right wing attitudes. Those established traits made their desperation to get back to America believable and kind of sweet. They really believe that their daughter could one day be President and of course if she is born in Canada she would be ineligible.

The Bad: However I had the opposite feeling about Liz' stubbornness. That was supposed to be her double edged sword because Carol too is stubborn. Yet I've never really thought of that as her defining characteristic. She has to adapt and negotiate so much at work when dealing with Tracy, Jenna, the writers and Jack that she can't afford to be that stubborn. I suppose she does like to dig in her heels on various issues but she is so often proven wrong or humiliated that I don't see it as a crucial part of who she is.

That made it hard to enjoy this plot at all. Carol has to keep the passengers on the plane for hours because the snowstorm is grounding flights and they don't have access to a terminal. He seemed completely in the right and yet she yells at him and tries to lead a passenger revolt. In response he pulls a gun on her. Seriously. He pulls out a gun on a sit com. I don't understand what the writers were thinking. There was nothing funny about their argument and yet I can't think we are supposed to take Matt Damon seriously as a love interest for Liz (it's too obvious he won't stay). I suppose if this were a different kind of show we might have learnt an important lesson about what Liz needs in a man but 30 Rock isn't that kind of show.

As for Tracy, his hunt for an EGOT began such a long time ago (407) I was always impressed that the story was kept bubbling away in the background. Yet here he has suddenly done it and it was a major letdown to just walk in and say "Oh hey congratualtions." I do remember him going for his Tony (414) but I don't remember him winning it or an Emmy or Grammy. In real life Tracy Morgan had to have a kidney transplant which affected his filming schedule and hence the way he is written out of the show for a little while here. However regardless of how the writers were forced to change plans this was a letdown.

The majority of jokes irritated me as usual like Liz' stomach actually talking or a bunch of deeply unoriginal jokes about Canada.  

Comic Highlight: However I admit that comedy is tough to critique. Clearly a lot of people laugh at silly jokes that I think don't work. This episode gave a great example of where I see the line between believable silliness and implausible nonsense. Jack and Avery are discussing their mutual refusal to ever quit. Avery claims "I'm still in girl scouts. I have nine thousand badges." Jack retorts that he "I'm still looking for a golf ball I shanked in 1987. I am not taking that penalty stroke." Now I can believe that Jack occasionally takes a day off to go searching around a golf course just to prove he never quits and tell some golf buddy the story of how he never really lost that round they played twenty years ago. It's silly but it fits his personality of presenting himself as the ultimate winner. However Avery still being in the girl scouts I think is nonsense. How would that benefit her in anyone's eyes? Who would sanction her to still participate? What would those badges be in? I don't blame you if you think I'm mad to draw what might seem like an arbitrary line between two stupid jokes. But I do. I don't do it intellectually. I smiled at one and I rolled my eyes at the other. Something inside me new as soon as I heard them why one worked and the other didn't. When I write the reviews I try to explain that reaction to you. So there it is.

The Bottom Line: Another week, another episode. Bye bye Carol, hello Jack as a father.



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